A Note on the Spelling and Pronunciation of Chinese Names*
A GREAT deal of confiision with regard to Chinese names has
been caused by the lack of a consistent method of spelling,
owing to the fact that some Chinese spell their surnames first
and their personal names last (the Chinese way), and o hers
spell their surnames last in the English fashion. Thus no one
can tell whether one should address Chu Chin Chow as Mr.
Ghu or Mr. Chow.
This difficulty can be easily obviated, first, by consistently
spelling the surname first and the personal name last, and
secondly, by spelling the personal name, which usually consists
of two syllables, as one bisyllabic word. There is no warrant
for writing these two syllables separately any more than there
is for spelling Shanghai as Shang Hai> or Kuomintang as Kuo Min
Tang. In this book, all such personal names are consistently
spelt as one bisyllabic word without hyphen, as Wu Peifu, Su
Tungp'o* This method of spelling will help to make the names
more easily recognizable. Try to spell Mussolini, Nicaragua^
Rabindranath as Mus So Li JVZ, Ni Ca Ra Gua, Ra Bin Dra Math,
and see the immediate loss in word-individuality. The mysti-
fication of Chinese names is entirely due to our own making.
In the pronunciation of Chinese names, the vowels a, e, i, o,
u have their Latin values. The vowel # in fete and ssu is pro-
nounced with the tongue held in essentially the same position
as that for the consonants ft and s. The vowd ih in shih, chih
is pronounced with the tongue held in essentially the same
position as that for ch or sh. Hs comes before i and u, but for
all practical purposes may be pronounced just as an ordinary
Aspiration is an important distinction in many pairs of
Chinese consonants, as p and p\ k and k\ Pronounce the
aspirated p9 as the p in English pan, and the unaspirated p as
* in English span. Likewise contrast the k in km and skw.